Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
When is it bad to be good? I asked this question today at the beginning of my homily for St. Joseph’s school Mass. You can imagine the look on the children’s faces! They looked at me as if I were asking a question in a foreign language! After all, we are constantly telling the kids to “be good.” So, when is it bad to be good? No one knew the answer. So I gave them a hint. I told them a story. Once upon a time, a little boy went along with his parents to the Parent-Teacher conference. The teacher was very kind. She told the boy’s parents that he was a good student. He had all C’s. That’s a good student; an average student.
Now, they understood! So, I asked my question again. One young man finally gave me what I was looking for. He told me that being good could be bad if it stopped us from being better! That’s it! That’s the answer! And that’s when I accidently told them a poem that actually rhymed! I said, “Don’t be a C student or a B student, but rather the best student that you can be!”
Some of us settle with being an animal. We seek only what makes us comfortable. We sniff around for opportunities and run away from dangers. We eat like a dog and sleep like a cat. We don’t bother anyone, but neither do we bother with anyone! We don’t communicate with others but work on-line, shop on-line, play on-line and live on a thin line. For me, this is the lowest form of life! And far too many of us settle with it!
It’s also not worthy of human beings to be just human beings. It’s beneath us to just think and do things all day long. After all, I can come up with some pretty nasty thoughts and do some pretty nasty things. I can gossip a storm and use my brain and my hands to plan out some awful things! I can also say that I didn’t do anything wrong! But once again, we are going backwards in time, not forward. I am thinking Old Law rather than Christ’s Law. It’s no longer good enough not to hurt someone. I need to help someone. It’s no longer good enough not to steal; I must give. It’s no longer good enough to leave people alone; I must love people to death.
Christ gave up everything, not so that I would have nothing to do but that I would have an example to follow. “Be like me!” “Do what I do.” “Love as I love.”
Oh Lord, I am such a fool to think that I can get to you (to happiness) by pushing my way through life! I cannot believe that I still think that I am strong! I know I am not. I know far too well what my problem is: I think too much, like a human being, and pray too little like the holy people. I think too often about “risks and threats”; I calculate too much because my life still revolves around fears and weaknesses!
I know I am not alone.
I know far too many of us think we can get by on our own. But we can’t. Let us come to terms with reality. The Lord did not call us to be good. He called us to be Holy. And to be Holy means He called us to be with Him, to collaborate with Him, to love Him and to serve Him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our strength, and with all our will. He called us to give our best while He took care of all the rest.